• July 13th, 2020

Reconciliation debate stirs emotions

The recognition of Chief Hosea Kutako by naming the country’s international airport after him and placing Chief Hendrik Witbooi’s face on the monetary unit are symbolic and don’t relieve the suffering and historic poverty entrapment of their communities that have still not structurally been addressed.
Those were the words of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) firebrand parliamentarian and leader, Bernadus Swartbooi, when contributing to the debate on the motion on the policy of national reconciliation tabled by Swanu president, Dr Tangeni Iiyambo, in the National Assembly about two weeks ago.

“Granting people old age universal pensions is not addressing structural impediments toward full citizenship in the economic, cultural and socio-political space of the country,” Swartbooi said, adding that even apartheid governments paid those grants, built houses for the elderly and constructed schools and hospitals that are still in use today. 

“Where is the Namibian social contract? What are its political and economic parameters that unbundle structural violence? Where is the reconstituted framework for justice and equality? Where is the freedom dividend? And who is collecting it?” Swartbooi questioned.
The outspoken MP says the model for reconciliation in Namibia is one without restorative justice, without a well thought-out framework of structural social, political, cultural and economic transformation and community rejuvenation. 

“We should thus recraft and adopt a model with justice. It should be the new social contract, embedded in the protection and advancement of inter-generational social well-being,” he added.  Swapo MP and home affairs minister Frans Kapofi in contributing to the debate said while it is very prudent to continuously discuss and hone the ideal of national reconciliation as one of the critical components of peace and nation-building, the premises of the arguments must be put in proper context, be focused and well-intentioned in order not to create unnecessary confusion among the public, hence defeating the purpose of a well-intentioned policy.

“I would be the first to concede that our country faces multiple economic and social difficulties, but these are not insurmountable. As political formations, we have differences that are not necessarily irreconcilable,” Kapofi said. He said the mover of the motion Iiyambo started off very well by recognising that national reconciliation (in his own words) is “a necessary component of post-violent reconstruction and nation-building, as well as lasting peace-building”. 

Kapofi said that while Iiyambo’s argument was sound, unfortunately he reduced his arguments merely to launching an anti-Swapo propaganda campaign. “Iiyambo’s action makes me think that he is using this motion, on a very important matter of national interest, in an abortive attempt to prove his own political relevance and erase the glorious history of the Swapo party of which he was once a member and failed to stay the course until its logical conclusion,” he said.
In his view, Kapofi said, Iiyambo was using the motion to get back at Swapo for things that took place 44 years ago and for reasons that he is too well aware of. 

“Honourable Iiyambo prides himself to be a graduate of Boroma despite the fact that he knows that there is nothing to be glorified about that place. Besides he knows very well that he was not the only one at that place. To you, honourable Iiyambo, Swapo owes you no apology, not now, not tomorrow. Swapo party remains committed to its policy of national reconciliation and ready to work with whomsoever to advance the course of the people of Namibia to peace and prosperity,” Kapofi concluded.

Swapo MP Yvonne Dausab said national reconciliation is an important philosophical supposition and was a major theme in the drafting of the constitution.  In fact, she said, the drafting of the Namibian constitution was a process of reconciliation. 
“It was a process of give and take. It was this process that drove the transformation agenda of Namibia for the past 30 years,” said Dausab who is the justice minister.

“No Namibian in their right mind will undermine the importance of national reconciliation. It is etched in the preamble of our constitution in an effort to foster peace, unity and a common loyalty to the republic,” she added. Dausab said that in consonance with widely accepted norms and standards of transitional justice, various provisions of the Namibian constitution set out aptly, in the Bill of Rights and the Directives of State Policy, the caring and conciliatory nature and tone of the kind of society “we wanted to see and continue to see”. 
“There is no disagreement that things are not what they should be in some respects. But that does not mean things are not okay. Instead, we must focus on the impetus and opportunity to reimagine our nation,” she said. 
– ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2020-06-29 09:37:29 | 14 days ago


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